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Image Of The Day - Galveston from Space

Friday, June 18th 2021 09:34 AM

Galveston from Space On Monday, June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Texas learned of their freedom. That day of liberation became known as Juneteenth, when the Emancipation Proclamation was announced by Union troops in Galveston, Texas. On Thursday, June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law legislation making Juneteenth, "a federal holiday, recognizing that (1) history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future; and (2) the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. This nighttime image, taken by the Expedition 36 crew aboard the International Space Station in 2013, shows most of the metropolitan areas of Texas, with Galveston in the lower right corner.   Image Credit: NASA

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Did solar eclipses help kick-start human curiosity?

Wednesday, June 16th 2021 01:47 PM

Did solar eclipses help kick-start human curiosity? As observers digest today's annular eclipse across Canada, Greenland, and Russia, a new paper wonders whether there might be more to solar eclipses than we thought.   A solar eclipse. "It did not look like a dragon," the essayist Annie Dillard once observed, "although it looked more like a dragon than the Moon." Twenty minutes to totality, thousands of generations ago... The Sun has withered to a crescent. The Moon's umbral shadow is somewhere to the west, speeding across Earth's surface at thousands of miles per hour. Silently, remorselessly, the Moon takes bigger and bigger bites out of the Sun's disk. On the ground, a group of our ancient ancestors is blissfully unaware of the events going on above them. The sky dims a little, but the sudden onset of night during the day has yet to come; the Sun remains dazzlingly bright. These early humans have an intuitive understanding of nature, as well as the familiar changes commo...

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The Sky This Week: Enter the Summer Triangle

Friday, June 11th 2021 09:42 AM

The Sky This Week: Enter the Summer Triangle This week of June 11 to 18 brings us familiar summer star patterns and the closest approach of Comet 7P/Pons-Winnecke. Friday, June 11 An asterism is an unofficial pattern of stars that isn’t one of the 88 officially recognized constellations that cover the sky. The Summer Triangle is a well-known asterism in the Northern Hemisphere sky. Its name comes from the fact that it’s visible all night during summertime in this hemisphere; now, it’s finally visible after sunset, rising in the east as the sky grows dark.   The Summer Triangle asterism returns to the night sky as the summer season approaches in the Northern Hemisphere. The Summer Triangle comprises three bright blue stars: magnitude 1.3 Deneb in Cygnus, magnitude 0.8 Altair in Aquila, and magnitude 0 Vega in Lyra. Starting at Vega, Altair sits 35° to the southeast. From Altair, look 38° north to Deneb, which also sits east of Vega. The Summer Trian...

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Partial Solar Eclipse over the U.S. Capitol

Thursday, June 10th 2021 09:21 AM

Partial Solar Eclipse over the U.S. Capitol   A partial solar eclipse is seen as the Sun rises to the left of the United States Capitol building, Thursday, June 10, 2021, as seen from Arlington, Virginia. The full annular or “ring of fire” solar eclipse  visible to some people in Greenland, Northern Russia, and Canada.  Source: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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What's Up - June 2021

Tuesday, June 8th 2021 09:35 AM

What's Up - June 2021 What's Up for June? A partial solar eclipse, the scorpion's sting, and June is for Juno! Following last month's total lunar eclipse, June brings us a solar eclipse. On June 10th, the Moon will slip briefly between Earth and the Sun, partially obscuring our local star from view. Whereas May's lunar eclipse was best viewed around the Pacific, this month's solar eclipse will be a treat for those in the northeast U.S., eastern Canada, and Northern Europe. For U.S. viewers, this is a sunrise event, with the Moon already appearing to have taken a bite out of the Sun as it's rising. So you'll want to find a clear view toward the eastern horizon to observe it. Those farther to the north and east will see more of the Sun obscured by the Moon. For those in northern Europe, it's more of a lunchtime eclipse. (Wherever you are, please review eclipse safety practices, and never look at the Sun without proper protection for your eyes.) On summer evenings, you may notice a c...

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Hubble Captures a Captivating Spiral

Thursday, June 3rd 2021 09:14 AM

Hubble Captures a Captivating Spiral This image shows the spiral galaxy NGC 5037, in the constellation of Virgo. First documented by William Herschel in 1785, the galaxy lies about 150 million light-years away from Earth. Despite this distance, we can see the delicate structures of gas and dust within the galaxy in extraordinary detail. This detail is possible using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), whose combined exposures created this image. WFC3 is a very versatile camera, as it can collect ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light, thereby providing a wealth of information about the objects it observes. WFC3 was installed on Hubble by astronauts in 2009, during Servicing Mission 4 (SM4). SM4 was Hubble’s final Space Shuttle servicing mission, expected to prolong Hubble’s life for at least another five years. Twelve years later, both Hubble and WFC3 remain very active and scientifically productive.

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The Sky This Week: A conjunction of Venus and Mercury

Wednesday, June 2nd 2021 09:31 AM

The Sky This Week: A conjunction of Venus and Mercury The Moon also mingles with the planets from May 28 to June 4.   Twilight trio: Mercury and Venus sit close together in Taurus the Bull May 28th, while Mars stands above them in Gemini. Friday, May 28 Mercury and Venus experience a close conjunction tonight when they come within 24' of each other amid the setting stars of Taurus the Bull. The pair is visible for about an hour after sunset; look west using any telescope or binoculars with a field of view that can fit the entire Full Moon to see both planets at once. Mercury, a faint magnitude 1.9, spans about 11" across and is a mere crescent just 12 percent lit. By contrast, brilliant magnitude –3.9 Venus is nearly full in phase and spans 10". Although Venus is physically much larger than Mercury, it appears smaller because it is farther away. One constellation away in Gemini the Twins, you’ll find magnitude 1.7 Mars. Because it’s located higher in the s...

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Hubble Captures a Captivating Spiral

Friday, May 28th 2021 09:40 AM

Hubble Captures a Captivating Spiral This image shows the spiral galaxy NGC 5037, in the constellation of Virgo. First documented by William Herschel in 1785, the galaxy lies about 150 million light-years away from Earth. Despite this distance, we can see the delicate structures of gas and dust within the galaxy in extraordinary detail. This detail is possible using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), whose combined exposures created this image. WFC3 is a very versatile camera, as it can collect ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light, thereby providing a wealth of information about the objects it observes. WFC3 was installed on Hubble by astronauts in 2009, during Servicing Mission 4 (SM4). SM4 was Hubble’s final Space Shuttle servicing mission, expected to prolong Hubble’s life for at least another five years. Twelve years later, both Hubble and WFC3 remain very active and scientifically productive.   Source: nasa.gov

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Magnetized Threads Weave Spectacular Galactic Tapestry   Threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields are weaving a tapestry of energy at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. A new image of this new cosmic masterpiece was made using a giant mosaic of data from ASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa. The new panorama of the Galactic Center builds on previous surveys from Chandra and other telescopes. This latest version expands Chandra's high-energy view farther above and below the plane of the Galaxy — that is, the disk where most of the Galaxy's stars reside — than previous imaging campaigns. In the image featured in our main graphic, X-rays from Chandra are orange, green, blue and purple, showing different X-ray energies, and the radio data from MeerKAT are shown in lilac and gray. The main features in the image are shown in a labeled version. One thread is particularly intriguing because it has X-ray and radio emission i...

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Europa’s Interior May Be Hot Enough to Fuel Seafloor Volcanoes Jupiter’s moon Europa has an icy crust covering a vast, global ocean. The rocky layer underneath may be hot enough to melt, leading to undersea volcanoes. New research and computer modeling show that volcanic activity may have occurred on the seafloor of Jupiter’s moon Europa in the recent past – and may still be happening. NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission, targeting a 2024 launch, will swoop close to the icy moon and collect measurements that may shed light on the recent findings. Scientists have strong evidence that Europa harbors an enormous ocean between its icy crust and rocky interior. The new work shows how the moon may have enough internal heat to partially melt this rocky layer, a process that could feed volcanoes on the ocean floor. The recent 3D modeling of how this internal heat is produced and transferred is the most detailed and thorough examination yet of the effect th...

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